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Should Expired Warnings Be Removed From Employees’ Files?

 Expired Warnings

No! Expired warnings should not be taken into account for purposes of progressive discipline but they should remain on an employee’s file for the whole period of their employment.

The reasons:

  1. Research in the United States showed that it can take up to 14 years before an alcoholic actually gets dismissed. This is because he or she does not normally come to work intoxicated.However, their alcoholism manifests itself in many forms:
    • Absenteeism – especially after weekends, public holidays and pay days.
    • Poor timekeeing – late in the mornings and/or after lunch, unexplained absences from workstation.
    • Tired / ‘lazy’ – lacks energy, constantly tired and unenthusiastic
    • Inattentiveness – constantly pre-occupied, forgets things, unable to concentrate on work and/or during training sessions.
    • Poor or deteriorating performance – mistakes due to inattentiveness or forgetfulness. Failure to meet deadlines. Disinterested and unenthusiastic about work matters.
    • Sick leave – excessive sick leave, usually for 1 or 2 days. Sick after weekends, rest and pay days. Dubious certificates from different doctors (gastro-enteritis, lumbago, etc.)
    • Behaviour patterns – mood swings and/or sudden changes in behaviour including:-
      • irritable and/or temper tantrums;
      • over-reacts to real or imagined criticism;
      • accidents, especially afternoons or after breaks;
      • untruthful, brags or overstates accomplishments;
      • avoiding behaviour, will not discuss problems.
    • Appearance – deterioration in general appearance and personal hygiene.
    • Financial difficulties – garnishee orders; excessive requests for cash advances or loans; problems with loan sharks.
    • Family and personal relationship problems – substance abuse, physical abuse and financial difficulties usually lead to some form of relationship problem.

    It is important to note that it is not just alcoholic employees who exhibit these symptoms. Employees who are abusing drugs and patent medicines; employees with a gambling addiction; employees with financial, marital and family problems also show similar trends of behaviour.

    If you remove the warnings and counselling forms from their file you will have no record and no way of recognising a pattern, especially if they are transferred between departments.

  2. The same applies for serious misconduct where an employee is given another chance. There is enough cause to dismiss but you do not do so because of mitigating factors.What if the same employee does the same or a similar thing in the future? If you don’t have the past record and once again there are mitigating factors, you will give him another chance. This will undermine your whole disciplinary system.
  3. Everyone can make a mistake, but one needs to learn from them. In some cases misconduct is not just a mistake, it is a character flaw. A criminal record does not get expunged over time – it remains with you for life. This is because sexual offenders, thieves and murderers tend to repeat their crimes.Situations arise where employees are suspected of theft, but there is not enough evidence to dismiss, only enough evidence to show that they did not follow procedures. If you remove the warning after it expires and he is again suspected of theft because he did not follow procedures, you will probably once again give him the benefit of the doubt – and your money/stocks will continue disappearing!